School suspends 1,000 students after strike, five arrested

Students of Blessed Sacrament SS, Kimaanya in Masaka City carry one of their colleagues who fainted after he was allegedly beaten by riot police officers deployed to force them out of the school premises following their suspension for striking. PHOTO/ GERTRUDE MUTYABA

What you need to know:

  • This is the fourth school in Masaka Sub-region to suffer a violent strike in a space of three weeks. Other schools are St. John’s Comprehensive Secondary School, St. Gonzaga Secondary School, Kijjukizo both in Lyantonde District and Kaikolongo Seed School in Lwengo District.

The management of Blessed Sacrament Kimaanya in Masaka City has indefinitely suspended at least 1000 students for allegedly taking part in a violent strike.

The affected students are from senior three, senior four, senior five and senior Six.

The rowdy students attempted to torch a boys’ dormitory but police whose station is located about 500 metres away swiftly intervened and arrested five ringleaders. By the time police swung into action, some mattresses in the dormitory had already been burnt.

Some students were beaten up and sustained some injuries as police forced them out of the school following the suspension.

 According to the students, the strike was planned Saturday following a power outage at the school which had taken some time in darkness yet they have to revise their books in preparation for the forthcoming mock examinations. The students also complained of poor quality of meals and highhandedness of some teachers.

“The power outage sparked off everything, we already had other issues, but we had kept quiet,” one of the students who preferred anonymity said.

"Our head teacher is very rude and never listens to our concerns even when we report to him," another student complained.

Some female students also accuse some male teachers of sexual harassment and that when they reject their advances, they are subjected to corporal punishment.

"When we complain about the unbecoming behavior of some teachers, they subject us to corporal punishments or sometimes suspension," one of the female students said.

 Mr Allan Muwonge, the school head teacher declined to talk to journalists about the issues and the suspension.

 However, Rev.Fr Michael Kamulegeya, the Masaka Diocesan education secretary said all issues raised by the students will be thoroughly investigated .

“We have decided to send majority of the students back home as we investigate all the issues being raised. Only senior one and senior two learners have remained at the school and we shall communicate to parents when others will report back,” he said.

Police deployed at the school to contain the situation and to force suspended students out of the premises 

  

Mr Moses Nanoka, the Masaka District police commander said police are going to maintain their presence at the school until the situation normalizes.

 This is the fourth school in Masaka Sub-region to suffer a violent strike in a space of three weeks. Other schools are St. John’s Comprehensive Secondary School, St. Gonzaga Secondary School, Kijjukizo both in Lyantonde District and Kaikolongo Seed School in Lwengo District.

At St.Gonzanga SS, the rowdy students torched the deputy head teacher's office accusing him of being a “rumormonger and secretly interacting with the female students.”

 Ever since students reported from a two-year Covid-19 induced lockdown on January 10, many secondary schools, especially those in northern and central Uganda have suffered violent strikes.

Available research suggests that students strike for various reasons, including poor nutrition, maladministration, poor teaching methods, poor communication, poor disciplinary implementation and demand for entertainment. Some students also reportedly go on strike under the influence of drugs and peer pressure.


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